Friday, February 26, 2016


One of the highest-dollar noncommercial station purchases in recent memory was announced this week: Christian broadcaster KSBJ Educational Foundation has purchased Houston Public Media’s (HPM) Classical KUHA 91.7 for around $10,000,000 according to several sources.

KSBJ is a Christian Contemporary Music powerhouse. Nielsen Audio estimated that during Fall 2015 KSBJ had 25,600 average-quarter-hour listeners, a 5.1% share of the market, 774,000 weekly cumulative listeners and an amazing 12.7 weekly cume rating, measuring a station’s listening penetration into the total market.

(Scroll down to see a detailed look at the KSBJ Educational Foundation.)

 Tom Taylor NOW [link] reports Houston Public Media won’t take a loss on selling the signal it went through such trouble to buy, back in 2010. NOW also discusses the programming plans for 91.7: An aggressive CCM Christian hip-hop and rock playlist designed for younger listeners called NGEN – “Now Generation” [link].  NGEN is a multi-platform digital service that has previously been heard on KSBJ-HD2. 

John Proffitt
The sale of KUHA is deeply disappointing for Classical music listeners in Houston. HPM acquired 91.7 only five years ago. In 2010, HPM’s John Proffitt led the effort to purchase KTRU from Rice University for $9.5 million.  Proffitt called the purchase A Crown in My Career.

To raise the money to buy 91.7 the HPM via the University of Houston floated bonds.  The repayment schedule called for around $400,000 per year to service the debt. HPM couldn’t pay the mortgage and the University of Houston (on the hook for the bonds) decided to sell and cut their losses. The deal to sell 91.7 did exactly that.


In September 14, 2015 we took a closer look at KSBJ and here is some of what we learned:

An old friend from the music and concert promotion business told me that dealings between CCM stations and Christian music industry would make Alan Freed blush. I don’t mean to imply that anything about KBSJ or CCM broadcasters but opportunities to create revenue are convenient.

According to KSBJ’s most recent tax filing for 2013, KSBJ had revenue of $8,768,000. [2013 is the source of all data, rounded to the nearest $1,000.]  Almost all of the revenues is attributed to gifts and contributions which were not itemized.

KSBJ reported expenses of $8,007,000 for an annual operating margin of $761,100.  KSBJ’s assets were $25,801,000, substantial for a nonprofit entity.  In 2013 KSBJ spent over $500,000 on political lobbying.

But wait, there is more money: KSBJ also operates a separate 501c3 for its concert business: KSBJ Special Events. This organization reported $1,787,000 in revenue and $1,669,000 in expenses for an annual operating margin of $88,000. KSBJ Special Events reported revenue of $8,376,000 since tax year 2009.

Wait again, there is even more money.  The exclusive ticket vendor for KSBJ Special Events is Ticket Servant, also operated by KSBJ. In 2013 Ticket Servant revenue was $329,800.

The total revenue for KSBJ Radio & Concerts in 2013 was almost $11,000,000. The driver of this business is the appeal of hit songs and hot CCM artists played in tight rotations. The artists appear at concerts and station events. ASo, airplay is the key to making the money machine go around.

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